How digital turned Nationale-Nederlanden into an omnichannel company

Dutch insurance and asset management company Nationale-Nederlanden, part of the NN Group, has a presence in 19 countries and serves several million retail and corporate customers. And for the past eight years, in an environment that’s increasingly changing and demanding, it’s been on a digital transformation journey to refine its customer service and generate proposals more adapted to its needs.

Starting in 2015, the company began to digitalize all sales and after-sales processes, a purpose reinforced by a promotion of synergies between distribution channels that led Nationale-Nederlanden to become an omnichannel company, which made it easier for customers to choose where, how, and when to engage with it.

In this process, new ways of working, based on corporate philosophy and culture aimed at change and adaptation, were integral to success. For instance, the company completed its conversion to a 100% Agile company in 2019, an achievement that reinforced its commitment to clients. According to Nationale-Nederlanden deputy general manager and CTO David Vaquero, the company’s digital transformation and evolution is continuous.

“The innovation applied to the business, and use of technological tools that support it, is updated at great speed, and we must be capable of providing the best response to customer needs,” he says, adding that digital transformation isn’t a specific milestone. “The context tests us and it’s necessary to reinvent ourselves every day.” 

So since the brand began this journey, the main objective has been to execute a corporate strategy by betting on the possibilities that technology provides in combination with people and data. According to Vaquero, this presented a tremendous advantage, but, at the same time, makes him and his team confront challenges that could disrupt efficiencies.

Digitization vs tradition

Although the insurance sector has a traditional image, that stopped being the case years ago, says Vaquero. “The market demanded evolution, customers demanded new forms of relationships, and the industry had to do what was necessary to evolve and transform for the benefit of people,” he says. “Without a doubt, it’s achieved this in a pioneering way, and much quicker than other sectors.”

In this context, technology must be seen as an ally that improves people’s work, and develops more complete and competitive services for society. “We’ve been thinking for years about a future of customer relations and service that involves hyper-personalization,” he says. To this end, he adds, the insurance sector has a great advantage because due to Nationale-Nederlanden’s ability to store, manage, and interpret data, it’ll be able to design ad-hoc products and services that respond to the real protection needs of each client.

One transformation, several projects

To further carry out this digital transformation, the company is allocating numerous resources, both investment and people, and the process implicitly involves the execution of many interrelated projects. According to Vaquero, all projects start from the same premise of doing what can be done so the company is prepared for the future and maintains the best customer experience. 

“Starting from that base, most of the resources are directed to transform and evolve our map of infrastructure, applications, and services,” he says.

So as a fundamental part of its goal to be data-driven, for example, the company is in the midst of implementing a platform that can host all analytical capabilities. This is already powered by the company’s main core systems, and has all the data and standardization necessary to start generating value through multiple dashboards used to improve customer retention, help prevent fraud, reduce the risk of high accident rates, and determine the best interaction with customers based on their relationship with the company.

Another important aspect in this interaction with customers is developing platforms that allow improvements in conversation flow, allowing long-term relationships and customer journeys to be strengthened.

Migration to the cloud is another transversal project with great impact, both in operations and business. Currently, more than 80% of the infrastructure has already been migrated. “All new workloads and solutions are already born cloud native,” Vaquero says. “There’s more than 300 services that cover our applications and facilitates integration between them and with third parties.”

Main technologies

With a project of such magnitude, the technologies applied have been vast and varied. Now, a large part of resources are being allocated to the efficient use of data, advanced analytics, as well as applications of AI and machine learning (ML) techniques that help processes and decision making. But they continue with highly relevant initiatives such as the path of complete migration to the cloud. At the same time, explains Vaquero, “one of our main areas of action is the creation of an extensive catalog of APIs that allow the business to participate in collaboration ecosystems with third parties and in new business models, while at the same time allowing applications to interact in an agile, fast, and simple way,” he says. 

Of course, cybersecurity and all supporting technologies have been fundamental since they’re key to guaranteeing protection against external threats and risks, and, above all, they’re capable of safeguarding and securing data and services to clients at all times.

Despite AI still evolving, Vaquero understands it’s the leading technology with enormous potential and is, therefore, integral to the overall success of Nationale-Nederlanden’s digital transformation journey, given the many uses and customization possibilities specifically for the insurance sector.

“We’re working on an international project, together with the rest of the NN Group’s business units, that pursues innovation and development of AI, as well as exploiting the possibilities of ChatGTP to create scalable and repeatable use cases.”

Artificial Intelligence, Change Management, Digital Transformation, Insurance Industry, IT Strategy